You’re probably already overly-anxious about protecting your identity online, but researchers at the University College London don’t feel that’s enough to worry about. So they’ve developed new software that can perfectly replicate anyone’s handwriting—dead or alive—making it easy to forge signatures and notes.
Past efforts to recreate someone’s handwriting usually result in a single font that, quite frankly, won’t fool anyone. The curves and distinct shapes of various hand-written letters are there, but the characters don’t connect properly. The results look like they were generated by a computer.
But this new algorithm, developed by Dr. Tom Haines, Dr. Oisin Mac Aodha, Dr. Gabriel Brostow, and other computer scientists, replicates all the unique parts of someone’s handwriting. This includes the varying thickness of the letters, how characters are joined, referred to as inter-character ligatures, and how they’re spaced vertically and horizontally. The results look like they’ve been written out by hand, letter after letter, because characters vary from word to word.
The algorithm that powers the new technology requires at least a paragraph’s worth of hand-written source text to be able to replicate someone’s penmanship. So if you’ve already tossed away all of your school notebooks, and stick to email from here on out, it will be hard for someone to electronically forge your chicken-scratch.
There are some applications for this technology that don’t involve forging doctor’s notes, prescriptions, or evidence for a trial. It could allow stroke victims, or those who’ve lost the ability to write, to generate meaningful hand-written notes. It could also be used as a tool for translating comic books and graphic novels, while preserving the artist’s handwriting which often adds to the aesthetic of every panel.